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Account of the Scholarly Exhibition at the Centre of Ceramic Studies, Cardiff


Jill Bryers Exhibited Works cont.

Bryars’ process of constructing the figures informs, in part, their sense of activity and emergence. Her responsive approach to subject and material allows for potential, as well as more intended ideas to arise. This approach is evident in her drawings, using mark making to identify the multiple experiences of an object. These early drawings and initial clay-based explorations of a pear (fig. 1), suggest the movement of her hands across its form, its texture, smell, even its decomposition. In this process, rather than mimetically representing an object, marks are laid down onto the paper or clay as a register of the artist’s response to its properties. In addition to the stimulus of the original object, these marks are themselves followed and responded to, gradually moving the emerging characteristics of the drawing toward meaning; a formation, which embodies both a sense of the object and the artist’s creative interaction with it. McNorton describes this approach to drawing/practice as ‘not quite knowing’ what the final outcome may be before commencing but ‘coming to know’ through the activity of making.3 This interaction between artist, subject and materials is particularly evident in drawings that document Bryars’ negotiation of a figure’s construction (fig. 2,3,4). Although more a document of the technical aspects of making, these images still retain a sense of the activity of Bryars’ working out ideas and ‘finding’ of possible solutions.4

Fig. 2 Fig. 3 Fig. 4
Bryars’ unconventional sketchbook provides a surface already loaded with stimulus from which to respond (fig.2)   This page documents Bryars’ working out the construction of one of her figures repetitive lines refer to the repetitive action of coiling (fig.3)   The activity of the scene adds a the sense of activity to Bryars’ drawings (fig.4)

That Bryars’ sketches often appear on top of already marked paper, newsprint or musical scores, is not incidental; the surface is already charged with marks, densities and imagery to which she can respond. This method is also applied when making her ceramic work, by marking the surface with liquid clay at different stages in its construction. The repetition of marking, forming and marking again imputes the sense of the figure or figures’ emergence and dissolving. Fragmentation of the figure becomes evident in Bryars’ work through the literal making and unmaking of the body, as its emerging characteristics are moved toward meaning.

Artist at work


3. McNorton, J., Uncommon Senses, The choreography of Drawing: The Consciousness of the Body in the Act of Drawing, Montreal Conference, Concordia University, 2000. back to text

4. The concept of 'finding' the image through the process of drawing/making is a central concept in McNorton's approach to creativity. back to text

Artist Statement >


Fig. 1

Bryars’ drawing and initial clay based explorations of a pear (fig.1)


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